Crossing the Pasig River




By 1030 on 24 February the 145th Infantry had compressed the last resistance in its zone into the Aquarium, located in a bastion off the southwest corner of Intramuros. Since Japanese holed up in the government buildings across Padre Burgos Street covered the Aquarium's outer walls with rifle and machine gun fire, the 145th Infantry was hard put to devise a plan of attack until the 1st Battalion discovered a tunnel connecting the bastion to the main wall. Company C used the tunnel as an assault route, while the rest of the Battalion provided fire support for the attack from the south wall and Cannon Company SPM's conducted a preparatory shelling. The Japanese neglected to defend the tunnel approach, and Company C, employing hand grenades and bazookas liberally, broke into the Aquarium with little trouble. The final assault began about 1600. An hour and a half and 115 dead Japanese later, the 145th Infantry had overcome the last organized resistance within Intramuros.

The 3d Battalion, 129th Infantry, on 24 February, finished mopping up at Fort Santiago, and continued to mop up and patrol in its zone until noon the next day, when it had to withdraw to get out of the line of fire of artillery units supporting infantry attacks against the government buildings to the east and southeast. The battalion returned to Intramuros when this fire ceased and resumed its search of the rubble until the 145th Infantry relieved it about noon on the 27th.

The casualties of the 3d Battalion, 129th Infantry, were amazingly low considering the opposition the unit met at Fort Santiago. The battalion reported that it lost about 5 men killed and 25 wounded in Intramuros; it killed perhaps 500 Japanese, 400 of them at Fort Santiago alone. The 145th Infantry suffered more heavily at Intramuros from 23 February through 1 March, when the regiment passed to the control of the Provost Marshal General, United States Army Forces in the Far East, for police duties in Manila. The 145th Infantry's casualties were approximately 20 men killed and 240 wounded, while the regiment killed or found dead some 760 Japanese.

The 37th Division's total losses--roughly 25 killed and 265 wounded--during the reduction of Intramuros were quite low in comparison to the Japanese losses. The infantry units alone killed over 1,000 Japanese and took 25 prisoners. This hardly provides an accurate figure of Japanese strength in Intramuros. All infantry reports are extremely generous to the supporting artillery and mortar units--both the infantry records and eyewitness accounts indicate that the artillery preparation fire from 17 February through the morning of the 23d killed many hundreds of Japanese. It would not, indeed, be surprising to learn the Japanese garrison numbered over 2,000 troops on 17 February.



Manifestly, artillery had done an unusually effective job at Intramuros, and one proof of the effectiveness of the bombardment was the fact that American infantry casualties were so low in comparison with the Japanese losses. That the artillery had also almost razed the ancient Walled City could not be helped. To the XIV Corps and the 37th Division at this stage of the battle for Manila, American lives were understandably far more valuable than historic landmarks. The destruction had stemmed from the American decision to save lives in a battle against Japanese troops who had decided to sacrifice theirs as dearly as possible.